Sheri Samson
On a recent day, contrails from an aircraft line the sky in Mineral County.

Distinct lines of chalky white periodically show up in the skies above many rural towns in Nevada and elsewhere, leaving many wondering about the controversial subject of “Contrails vs Chemtrails”.

These distinct, wide formations, creating “X’s” or horizontal pathways, have a primary explanation known as contrails. This is simply condensation caused by the moisture created by airplane exhaust, meeting up with warmer air in the atmosphere. When blowing hot air from our lungs into the coldness of winter air, a cloud is created, but in the upper atmosphere the warmth flexed from an aircraft is stronger, so the predominant sky-writings last longer.

At the nearby Fallon Naval Air Station, Zip Upham, Public Affairs Officer, explained that depending upon the altitude of an aircraft, lingering contrails could mean that various sizes of atmospheric ice crystals are formed, dispensing slowly into displacements which leave visual lines within the clear, blue skies. These crystals fall into gravity, creating a display of various shapes and sizes, which gradually are absorbed into the atmosphere.

“This is similar in aerosol product, such as hair spray. If sprayed close to any hard surface, it will form a liquid and yet if cold enough, this substance could freeze creating an actual crystal formation, light enough to create solid formations. Normally an aerosol product dissipates under the right conditions and there is no actual debris, but when there are contrails, you are seeing a condensational display of hardened substances which eventually dissolve into space,” Upham explained.

Upham went on to share that the military pilot program, conducted from Fallon, includes flying in all weather conditions, so navigation can be anticipated and the principles of protection utilized.

“When our pilots and crews are flying in unknown spaces of risk – as in possible enemy territory – no one wants to be visually seen because of a contrail. By understanding the levels and conditions which create contrails, proper altitudes can be determined for safety and technical control,” Upham admitted.

But based upon these facts, this officer also admitted that the chemtrail theory could be based upon the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) code which does allow the venting of fuel at 2,000 feet above ground, although the Air Force standard remains at 5,000 feet and the Navy requires 6,000 feet, to be used in any emergency.

“The primary reason to vent fuel would be a weight issue,” Upham explained, “as landing an aircraft with a full fuel tank could result in danger to the pilot, the passengers, the crew and the plane, should an emergency landing be required.”

Rumors also circulated in the 1990s about the U.S. Air Force sabotaging rural areas with chemicals and old fuel disposals, but Republican Senator, Kelli Ward, out of Lake Havasu City called for the Arizona Environmental Quality Meeting to clarify and debunk any citizen concerns.

“Back then, the study’s presenter felt it was clear that vapor trails made from water and gasses excreted from various types of aircraft engines were contrails,” shared Upham.

This concept was balanced out with a 1996 disclosure, finding that federal testing involved in geo-engineering for weather manipulation, such as cloud-seeding, may be continued and completed by 2023, to establish cloud space conclusions which are safe for everyone.

According to the Desert Research Institute, the weather modifications from the 1960’s which used aircraft assistance to create rain and land moisture contained no chemicals, thus no chemtrails. Countering this, an environmental journalist, William Thomas, claimed in 1999 that the Air Force had been working on a toxic cloud experiment to reduce global warming. This claim had no solid basis for denial or acceptance from the federal government.

The science and realism of these feathering displays across our skies may continue to create a verbal opinion of controversy, as these abstract designs surface across our skies. Whether myth, theory or fact, these billowing trails will continue to bring observation and photographed displays of wonder.